PARIS (AFP) - It's taken more than a century, but Einstein's
celebrated formula e=mc2 has finally been corroborated, thanks to a
heroic computational effort by French, German and Hungarian physicists.
A brainpower consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France's Centre
for Theoretical Physics, using some of the world's mightiest
supercomputers, have set down the calculations for estimating the mass
of protons and neutrons, the particles at the nucleus of atoms.
According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and
neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are
bound by gluons.
The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of
quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95
The answer, according to the study published in the US journal Science on Thursday, comes from the energy from the movements and interactions of.
In other words, energy and mass are equivalent, as Einstein proposed in his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905.
The e=mc2 formula shows that mass can be converted into energy, and energy can be converted into mass.
By showing how much energy would be released if a certain amount of
mass were to be converted into energy, the equation has been used many
times, most famously as the inspirational basis for building atomic
But resolving e=mc2 at the scale of sub-atomic particles -- in equations called quantum chromodynamics -- has been fiendishly difficult.
"Until now, this has been a hypothesis," France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said proudly in a press release.
"It has now been corroborated for the first time."